Party Polarization

Poli Sci 424C

Winter Quarter 2020-21


Shanto Iyengar (
Office Hours: Tue Noon-1

Class website:

This research seminar covers current and previous approaches to the study of party polarization. The focus is primarily on American politics. We will address alternative conceptualizations of polarization, possible explanations for rising polarization, and broader implications for democratic politics.

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Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is being made. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 650-723-1066,

Jan 11 – Introduction/Overview

Jan 13 – Social origins of party systems

Jan 20 – Polarization as Ideological Divergence

Jan 25, 27 – Polarization as Animus

Feb 1, 3 – Contributing Factors: Network Homophily

Feb 8, 10 – Contributing Factors: Partisan Sorting

Feb 17 – Contributing Factors: Ideological Extremity

Feb 22, 24 – Contributing Factors: Media Use

Mar 1 – Contributing Factors: Social Media Use

Mar 3 – Partisanship as Litmus Test

Mar 8 – Misinformation

Mar 10-15 – Presentation of Draft Research Proposals